The United Arab Emirates is one of the most stringent countries in the world when it comes to internet censorship. Unlike western countries, where most of the internet is readily available to users who are interested in surfing the web, there are major restrictions in the UAE. The UAE censors adult websites, online material from political dissidents, Israeli based web domains, and other material that is considered immoral. Even social media such as Snapchat and WhatsApp have faced heavy restrictions in the UAE, along with communications services such as Skype.
UAE citizens do not have any immediate political recourse. They are subject to their government’s decision to block particular websites. But with the help of virtual private networks, or VPNs, citizens in the UAE can gain access to websites that might have been previously blocked by the government before.
Virtual private networks have three major functions: they shield the users IP address, providing them with a new one based on a remote server location, they make online activity anonymous by providing a secure connection and encrypting communications, and they allow users to access websites that are blocked in their current geolocation. This is critical for individual internet users located in the UAE, who might find that the websites and online content that they want to view has been censored and blocked by the government.
Internet users in the UAE can circumvent online restrictions put in place by the government with the use of a VPN. VPN clients can be used on laptops or smartphones, and make it easy to access the multitude of different sites that have been blocked in the UAE. Everything from social media to the writings of political dissidents can be accessed by UAE internet users with the help of a VPN.
If internet users in the United Arab Emirates want to keep their internet activity private, then VPNs are the way to go. Hackers, identity thieves, and government actors are all looking for different ways to see what individual users are doing online. Hackers are looking for sensitive information of personal or financial nature that can be exploited. But government actors are looking for dissidents or individuals who might be connected to groups that are out of favor politically. In a country like the United Arab Emirates, where dissent is frowned upon, it is critical for internet users to be able to have a private, secure connection where their communications are encrypted.
Encrypted communications from a VPN allow UAE internet users to communicate without fear of being reprimanded by government actors. Even if the information was accessed, the encryption would prevent anyone from being able to decipher it. VPNs also keep online activity private from the spying eyes of businesses, internet service providers, and other third parties who might find personal data valuable.
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